New Job? No Problem! 4 Tips for Aligning with Your Executives

We recently hired a new Administrative Assistant, Brooke Murray, to join the Office of the CEO at Adam Hergenrother Companies. We run hard and we run fast and that means that our new team members need to dive in and get up to speed as quickly as possible. Brooke has been with us now for over 90 days, so we thought it would be a great time to hear her take on how to get into alignment fast, with not one, but two, busy and very particular (okay, that’s me, not Adam!) Executives. Take it away, Brooke!

Integrating with a new team can be overwhelming, intimidating, and down-right scary…unless you take purposeful steps to get to know what makes the organization and your Executives tick. You want to impress them, make positive changes, and become invaluable, not “just” do your job. But how do you get there? During the past three months, I’ve been on a journey to reach the summit and join Adam Hergenrother (Founder & CEO) and Hallie Warner (Chief of Staff) on this mountain of impressive success and accountability that I saw in front of me. Here is what I’ve learned (so far):

  1. Lead with Confidence  – Leading with confidence, that is, informed confidence is critical. Come into each and every conversation with all of the details. The more information you provide, the less catching up there is to do. This will open up the room for more growth ideas. Don’t waste anyone’s time, including your own. This can feel like a Catch 22 as an assistant. For example, am I wasting time looking into something that might go nowhere when I could be doing any of the other 100 things on this hour’s to-do list? Maybe, maybe not. The key here is understanding the priorities. What tasks are most important, not only to your Executive, but to the organization as a whole? What tasks are the most time-sensitive? The more information you bring to the table, the more you will learn by the questions asked in return, furthering your understanding of your Executive’s goals. 
  2. Be a Diligent Note Taker – No note is too big or too small! Take clear and detailed notes on absolutely everything – especially on what you think you will remember. No one expects you to know that your Executive doesn’t like Orange-Vanilla seltzer on the first day, but once you know, WRITE THAT DOWN! Be the keeper of all information, reference it frequently, and you’ll know your team better than anyone in no time. And, of course, this applies to everything, not just seltzer preferences! The more you know, and truly understand, the more you are looked to for valuable information when your Chief of Staff or Executive needs an answer! The more they ask, the more you know about where they are focused, and where you may be able to help them leverage responsibilities to you. Make yourself an asset in every aspect, which starts with the simple task of taking great notes!
  3. Listen, and Don’t Take it Personally – Now, there is a fine line here that took me a while to understand (and honestly, I’m still learning). I am an emotional being who struggles with my drive and motivation being directly sourced from the opinions and expectations that people have of me. It is hard work moving away from this mindset. Listen to what your team is actually saying and not what your mind is telling you how to feel about it. When Hallie says that an idea I had won’t work well, she isn’t saying that my thought sucked or that I failed. What she is saying, is that in the current growth state of the company, that idea doesn’t add the value we are looking for. Still a good idea, but not a good fit. Now you know more about your Chief of Staff’s thought process, how to pivot to meet the needs of the company, and ultimately, present a kick-ass idea to your Executive the next time that is in alignment with his/her trajectory. By listening without getting emotionally impacted, true and honest communication will flow between team members. What better way is there to get to know the vision that surrounds you than this? 
  4. Think Like a Partner – “That is not my job” should never come out of your mouth…or even be in your thoughts. A common struggle with being a Force Multiplier is how difficult it is to explain our jobs (it is also the part I love about it the most). Bottom line, your job is whatever it needs to be to add support and value to your Executives, every day. No task is too big or too small. So, how do you think like a “partner”? Accountability. Don’t buy into the myth that you are “just an assistant.” Own your role and the value you bring! If you feel intimidated by your executive team, maybe you are actually thinking too little of yourself. You are in the room for a reason, rise up with confidence and do the work that needs to be done. Partners know what needs to be done and they take action, without hesitation. And if they don’t know, they ask. They care about the vision of the company and they never minimize the value that their position holds in the organization. If you are working at (at least) the same level of dedication and passion as those around you, alignment won’t be far behind. 

Alignment is more about understanding than it is about changing how you work and who you are! Who you are pushed you to this position and drives you to achieve results. When you combine that (who you are) with the understanding and acceptance of who your Chief of Staff and Executive are – you will have an unstoppable team. Taking these steps to learn the intricate details of your team ensures that you have the necessary understanding to support and multiply their efforts, all the while maintaining your own strengths and increasing your value to the team. 

For more information about how to create a strategic partnership between CEO, Chief of Staff, and Executive Assistant/Administrative Assistant, join our next session of The Founder & The Force Multiplier starting on November 4!

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